Last week, Oprah Winfrey had her Christmas giving show. You know, the one where all the audience participants are oblivious at the beginning of the show to the fact that they will go home with armloads, even truckloads, of wonderful goodies that Oprah declares to be her favorites. Wouldn't we all like to be a part of THAT audience!
Every year I say I'm going to make my list and send it to Oprah. The things on my list are a little more affordable, but no, I'm not going to buy one of everything on my list for everyone in my audience. It is comprised of those things that I have and use and love and generally can't do without (or don't want to). Some of them may have come at a high price in the end, or they might cost as little as a couple of dollars. But I like them all.
1. Brighton desk pen
Last year I was browsing in the Brighton store, which the very act of doing is a dangerous thing. There are so many temptations there that my head is usually swimming. I love going there and being tempted mercilessly, though. And the people who work there are so hospitable, you wouldn't believe it! They many times have plates of cookies - good cookies, too - for you to munch on while you're shopping. They're smart that way. I mean, who doesn't like cookies and heaven forbid you should have to leave the store prematurely because you had an acute case of hunger!
They have bottles of water for you, too. Again, absolutely free. But these aren't just bottles of water; they've got Brighton labels on them. More smartness on their part. You probably won't drink your entire bottle of water while you're in the store, so when you leave (after spending what they hope will be copious amounts of money), you will be a walking advertisement as you pass other shoppers and they see your bottle of Brighton water.
Last year I was in Brighton one day with my daughter Kara, when I spied these beautiful pens. It was close to Christmas time and the girls always want to know what they can get me, and while I'm not that hard to buy for, they still want suggestions. I loved these pens, and when Christmas came, I was the proud owner of one of them, thanks to my girls.
This is not just any pen. It has a holder and I know there's probably a name for that in the pen world but I'm too lazy to google for that right now. It's a weighted holder of course, and it serves two purposes: It makes a handy place to keep the matching pen so it doesn't get shoved in a drawer never to be seen again under all the other crap in the drawer. And it's pretty! With a pen like this, that's important. A pretty pen deserves a pretty holder.
Another good thing about this pen is that it takes Bic Stic® refills. When your pen runs dry, just pull out the writing end and shove in another Bic Stic®. This is good because you can have a fancy pen without having to buy expensive refills.
2. Mentha Lip Tint
Kara used to work at Bath & Body Works during their Christmas season for extra spending money and she'd always tell me about the neat things they'd have. This was one of them and it has become my absolute favorite all-around lip product.
Mentha makes several lip products that come in basically the same packaging, which is a tube that has a slanted applicator tip. The one I love is the Shine For Life Lip Tint in the pink tube with the Breast Cancer ribbon on it. Mentha donates a portion of the sales of this lip tint to the American Breast Cancer Foundation.
What makes this lip product so wonderful is that it's infused with peppermint oil in such a way that when you lick your lips or press them together while wearing this, it helps freshen your breath. As a dental hygienist, I'm super sensitive to breath issues. I'm not supposed to have bad breath, but of course I have this problem occasionally just like anyone else. I eat candy just like anyone else, too. I hope that hasn't tainted your view of me as a dental professional, but candy is good stuff and I have a weakness for it.
The lip tint also has just enough color to give your lips a boost. In my case, I really need this because if you take a picture of me bare-lipped, it looks like my lips have disappeared or something. This stuff just gives my lips a normal healthy look without making me appear to be enhancing them at all. Sneaky, eh?
3. Horticulture and The American Gardener Magazines
I know, that's two things, but they're the same kind of thing, so they count as one for the purposes of my list. It's probably no surprise that my two favorite magazines are about gardening and I do subscribe to others, but these are the ones that get read right away and all the way through. They're also the ones that never make it into the circular file.
Shopping tip: Want to get the real bargain here? A membership to the American Horticulture Society at $35 a year gets you not only a free subscription to The American Gardener, but also free admission to gardens and garden shows nation-wide. I talked it up in February, and I'm mentioning it again because it would make a great gift for the gardener on your list. Right now, they're running a Holiday Special where you can get three memberships for the price of two.
4. Microfiber socks
I like microfiber anything. It's that super soft fabric that comes in not just socks, but blankets, sheets (yes, sheets!), robes, sweaters, etc. Some of it is so soft it nearly feels like you're not touching anything at all when you run your hands over it. I think it's the greatest invention since sliced bread (which came to us in 1928, by the way). We've got a microfiber blanket on our bed, and I really want the sheets, but at $89 a set, I'll have to wait for a sale on those. Kara and I found microfiber robes for $8 while shopping at Kohl's this fall, so we now have matching ones.
But I really like my collection of microfiber socks that I wear around the house, especially in the evenings. They keep my feet warm and of course they just feel so soft. My absolute softest and favoritest are the pink Karen Neuburgers that Jenna got me last year for Christmas. I think Oprah had these on her list too one time, along with Karen Neuburger pajamas. Those are good, too, and the only pair I ever had were cut off me when I was taken by EMS to the hospital when I had meningitis. That was a pretty good trade-off though - pajamas for my life. Yes it was.
5. Amy Grant Christmas CDs
I grew up in the '60s with the Firestone Christmas albums my mom and dad had. Each year, they'd come out with a new one, but always with the same bow on the album cover. It had all the classics, sung by stars of the day, like Julie Andrews and Vic Damone. They were good.
But for some reason, the music that makes me feel "Christmas" is that of Amy Grant. She's done three Christmas CDs and I love every one of them. Her first one, A Christmas Album , I bought in cassette tape format because we didn't own a CD player back then. Now we don't own a cassette tape player and I had to buy it again so we could play it on our CD player.
I've seen Amy in concert several times and all were outstanding performances, but I'll never forget the Christmas Concert my girlfriends and I saw in Indianapolis one year. It was magical and inspirational.
Though not a classic Christmas song, Breath of Heaven gets me every time.
6. Sonicare Elite e7300 Power Toothbrush
Even if I weren't a dental hygienist, this would be on my list. I've read the research and test results and have actually been a part of a testing group for Sonicare products. Over the years I've tried more toothbrushes than I could count, both manual and power, and still this is the one I use every day myself. As a hygienist, I also see patients that use Sonicare and I see the results in their mouths. Plain and simple, this is a superb product.
That said, here is the disclaimer: Sonicare is very easy to use, but it's not a miracle machine. You must use it twice daily, as directed, for best results. And it won't compensate for poor habits on the user's part (such as smoking, poor diet, etc.), but as far as cleaning products go, it's the best as far as I'm concerned.
7. Klaus Kobec Watch
You've probably seen this watch in print advertisements; I think I first saw it in one of Romie's golf magazines. It took me a long time to part with the money to buy this watch, but I've never regretted a penny of it. I have to admit I didn't pay $189.00 for it because they were having a pretty good special on it at the time I bought it, but it still cost way more than I've ever paid for a watch.
I used to have a watch fetish and while I still love watches of all kinds, have quite a collection of them, and wear most of them at some time or another, I wear this one the most. It goes with just about anything and not only do I like it, most people who notice it do, too. If something ever happens to it, I'm sure I'll replace it.
8. Hershey's Nuggets Milk Chocolate Truffles
This is the candy du jour. I go in spurts with my candy cravings, but this one has lasted quite awhile now. I've never considered myself to be a chocoholic like Romie or my mom, but I think I may be well on my way to becoming one if these truffles have their way with me. They remind me of the chocolate I had once upon a time in Chamonix, France. That was so memorable that I can tell you the exact date - July 14, 1974 - Bastille Day.
The chocolate outside of Hershey's Truffles is creamy enough by itself, but once you allow that to melt down to the truffle inside, creamy takes on a whole new meaning.
That's another thing - pure chocolate is never to be chewed, you must let it melt in your mouth until it's all gone. People who chew it shouldn't be allowed to eat it. They just don't get the savoring bit and that's a high crime in the chocolate world. It's downright chocolate abuse.
Oh, and chocolate doesn't cause tooth decay. It's the perfect candy.
9. Dell Inspiron 710m Laptop
It's a well-known fact that I'm addicted to my computer. I've got a Dell Dimension 4550 and it's a great computer. A year and a half ago, Dell ran a two-day special on a 12-inch laptop that was too good to resist. I'd been wanting a small laptop, but the price always stopped me. Not this time. Kara bought one, too. If you register at their website, you'll be notified of their super saver deals such as this one.
I use it quite a bit here at home now that I have a wireless network, and I take it with me when I travel. I love my little Dellette. It feeds my addiction.
10. Book Thong
Several years ago, I bought one of these charming bookmarks at Border's book store. Now I make them myself and they're my signature item that I sometimes leave in a cache while out geocaching. I give them as gifts, too, and I've made close to a hundred of them by now. I have a large assortment of beads and charms and no two that I make are alike. But for all of them that I've made or could make, I still use that original one that I bought years ago.
Sometimes I jump right on a new product bandwagon and sometimes I hang back. Though Crocs™ have been around since 2002, it was just this past summer when I bought my first pair. And my second. And third. I LOVE THESE SHOES! No, they're not the most attractive, but they are hands down the most comfortable and their appearance sort of grows on you.
They've got these cute little charms you can attach to your Crocs™ called Jibbitz. I have a few of these: red star, green shamrock, my initial "K", red heart, daisy, and a kitty that my mom got me.
I have a pair of white Crocs™ that I wear for work and now they've come out with Crocs™ Mammoth, which is their original shoe with a removable fuzzy liner to keep your feet warm for winter. I want a pair of these, too.
12. Dyson Vacuum Cleaner
Believe the hype. I used to be a Hoover gal, but this is one great vacuum cleaner. I've never minded running the vacuum when cleaning house (hate dusting though), but I love pushing the Dyson around. They've got several models in cool colors and we've got the Animal. Ours is a refurbished model and after three years of use with no problems whatsoever, we still love it. I think we paid something like $329 for ours, which was a pretty good deal.
13. Memory Foam Mattress Topper
Having fibromyalgia sometimes means that getting good restful sleep is difficult. The biggest reason for this is that many times I just can't get comfortable and it seems like no matter what position I get myself into, something hurts. But this doesn't happen very often anymore, thanks to our 4-inch memory foam mattress topper. We didn't feel like we could afford a Tempur-pedic™ mattress, so this is a compromise, but it gets the job done.
We have a Comfortaire mattress, which I like, but the mattress topper makes it so much better.
I love my bed.
14. Pepsi ONE
I drink it first thing in the morning and late into the night and I really really miss it when I don't have it. Addicted? You bet. And I don't even think it tastes that good. So what's the deal? I don't drink diet pop because it's low in calories; I drink it because it doesn't have sugar in it. I've seen what drinking lots of Mountain Dew can do to a person's teeth. It's not pretty.
I love the carbonation and I like it best when it's out of a can (no fountain pop for me!) and so cold that it has tiny little ice crystals in it. If I do drink it out of a glass, which isn't very often if I can help it, I don't want ice in it. That dilutes the flavor and carbonation too much.
Pepsi ONE uses the artificial sweetener Splenda (sucralose) instead of NutraSweet (aspartame). I've found that my fibromyalgia pain is worse when I drink Diet Coke (my former love) with NutraSweet and while I'm aware that Diet Coke with Splenda is available, it's not very easy to find in our stores. I think Pepsi ONE tastes very much like Diet Coke. I don't like Diet Pepsi.
Who knew that one could be a connoisseur of canned pop?
15. Tweezerman Squeeze and Snip
These are not your mother's tweezers. I know, they look like tweezers and they work much like tweezers, but if you're not careful, you could cut your finger off with these. These don't pinch, they cut. Made of very heavy stainless steel, the tips are actually blades, which makes snipping cuticles, hangnails and other skin a breeze. I'll bet you could find all kinds of uses for these things.
Tweezerman is famous for their tweezers and their lifetime sharpening guarantee. I have a pair of Tweezerman eyebrow tweezers and when I needed to have them sharpened, I just packaged them up, sent them off, and they were back to me in no time.
I've had these snippers for several years now and so far they haven't needed to be sharpened and I use them all the time, mainly for this issue I have with a plantar's wart on the bottom of my foot. I won't go into that; it's literally a sore spot with me and for some reason the various doctors I've seen don't want to remove it surgically. With these, I could probably do it myself. Seriously.
16. Ionic Breeze Air Purifier
Romie is allergic to a lot of things, including dust, mold, trees, grasses, pollen, cats . . . Yes, cats, and we have eight of them. For the last three years he has been making weekly trips to the doctor's office for immunization therapy. One of the things that the allergist recommended that he feels really works to help keep the allergens down in the home is the Ionic Breeze Air Purifier sold by Sharper Image. So of course, we bought one, and later another.
We only have two cats in the house, with the rest only making it inside on occasion, and while his doctor recommended we not have any, he agreed that with everything else that Romie is allergic to, getting rid of the cats wouldn't make much difference. That's a good thing, because Romie likes them just as much as I do, maybe more.
I'm not allergic to much of anything except for bee stings, so these air purifiers are not a necessity for me, but I love them. I'm happy that they contribute to better air quality for Romie, but I also like how they make the air smell. In our family room, which is fairly large, I don't notice a difference in the way the air smells, but in our smaller bedroom, I love walking into the room and immediately getting a whiff of air that smells like spring. Yeah, it's that good.
17. Eddie Bauer Sweatshirt Sweater
My first one was red. The next one was white. Then came yellow, charcoal, blue, and bordeaux. Every season they offer them in a new assortment of colors. In the 15 or so years since I bought my first sweatshirt sweater, this is the one item in my closet besides my jeans that I reach for when I want to put on something comfortable. I've actually worn small holes in two of them.
I was glad when they started making these in petite sizes, because I have a problem with sleeves being too long on everything. It's not that my arms are short - I just have really narrow shoulders. Three-quarter sleeves rock.
18. Shop At Home Select
There are all kinds of shopping portals and I've probably tried most of them. Discover Card has one; Ebates is another. But the one I love and use all the time is Shop At Home Select. How these work is, you start your online shopping by going to their home page and signing in. Then you look for the store where you want to shop and click on the link that takes you there. By starting at the portal's home page, they give you a rebate from every purchase you make. Then when you reach $20, they send you a check. They really do. I've been doing it for years.
But wait! They make it even easier than that. Instead of having to go to their site to start your shopping, they have this nifty little application that you download and install that automatically takes you through the portal and credits your account. That way you don't have to even think about it and won't have to worry about forgetting. When you go to a store that's partnered with their site, such as Gardener's Supply, a little window pops up for a few seconds that lets you know if you make a purchase there, you'll receive a 5% rebate for your purchase.
Rebate amounts vary by store, and some businesses give cash for certain kinds of transactions. When we joined NetFlix, we got $19.00 credited to our Shop At Home Select account.
I'm very particular about what I'll download and install on my computer and for the first year or so, I didn't install Shop At Home Select's shopping software. Then I decided to take the plunge and in the several years since, I've never once experienced a problem and it's very non-intrusive. They don't use your e-mail for other purposes, only for communication with you and for crediting your account.
So, if you think you might want to take advantage of this, and I can't think of a single reason why you wouldn't, go here and sign up. It's free, and if you use my link, you'll get $5.00 with your first purchase and so will I. It doesn't really matter to me if you do or not, but who can't use an extra $5? And in this Christmas shopping season, you might just make enough money from rebates to buy yourself some new plants for the garden next spring.
19. Palm Z22 Handheld PDA
There's something just too cool about having a handheld device you carry in your purse that contains all the important data of your life in it. And Sudoku. I'll admit I'm lax about entering important dates and information into it, and I can't figure out why that is, because it's very user-friendly. Even my mom, who is electronically challenged, has one and uses it religiously.
I use mine religiously too - for playing Sudoku. That's just another of my obsessions. Or is it addictions? Whatever.
20. Romie, my husband
No, he can't be had at any price. Sorry. But he belongs on this list because he is absolutely my very favorite thing. I could write a book about why he's so special to me, but I'll give you the Reader's Digest version - because he loves me, and at times that is not an easy thing to do. He makes my life just about as good as it could be and does it with a smile on his face. I truly couldn't live without him.
There you have it - My Favorite Things 2007. I'm sure you have your favorites, too. I'd love it if you did a post on your blog and came back and left a comment to let me know you've posted it so I can be sure to read your list. Maybe one of your favorite things will become one of my new favorite things. It might help me with my Christmas shopping, too.